A young Ranger with big dreams moves to the city. Living with her Dwarf maiden friend, and a drug-dealing lizard roommate, she slogs away at her day job, dreaming of adventure. Welcome to Modern Fantasy #1 from Dark Horse Comics.
Writer: Rafer Roberts
Artist: Kristen Gudsnuk
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: June 27, 2018
Modern Fantasy #1 is a new book about young people living and working (or not) in the city. Sage dreams of adventure while dealing variously with her crappy day job, weird co-workers, roommates, friends, moochers, etc. Except this is not our ordinary world – this world is populated by Elves, Goblins, Owlbears, Mind Flayers, and every other creature you could imagine. So when things get weird, they get weird.
WORKING FOR A LIVING
I don’t think I’m the target demographic for this book, but I do like to try different things because you never know what will pique your interest. Modern Fantasy #1 starts out in the city of God’s Helm, which resembles New York, except the population is even more diverse because it has creatures as well as people. There’s a lot going on here. Our main character is Sage of the Riverlands, a Ranger who reads and daydreams about adventure. Living with her are her best friend Gondor (the Dwarf maiden) and Lizard Wizard. Lizard Wizard has a boyfriend (Fentax) who is a Goblin, a thief, and a serious mooch. There are plenty of other characters, but these are the main ones so far.
A lot of Modern Fantasy #1 is devoted to setting up characters, story threads, and conflicts, and it builds up to the action very gradually. Also, this is a 15+ book. The characters are engaging in sex and drug use (not explicitly depicted, but certainly happening and being talked about). Lizard Wizard is a drug dealer, and Fentax has stolen something from his supplier. We have some vignettes of Sage, showing the trials and tribulations of the data entry worker. There’s a party with a lot of couples making out – interesting pairings of all different kinds of beings. We learn there’s a mysterious Sky Castle floating above the city. Gondra has a boyfriend, Spenser. Fentax, the mooch, has stolen all Sage’s Jethro Tull albums. And Fentax gives Sage the amulet he stole from Lizard Wizard’s supplier.
Then some time is spent with the morning after the party, which I won’t go into here. Sage heads off to work where there is a meeting with Corporate. She starts fantasizing about the hot Elf boy who was at the party, when her iScroll buzzes. Fentax has been beat up by the drug lord’s bully boys, and now they’re going after Lizard Wizard. Sage runs home to warn him, but too late – they’ve beaten him up, and apparently are going to kill Fentax unless he returns the amulet. This sounds like the start of an actual adventure for Sage!
AN AMBITIOUS RANGE TO COVER
Modern Fantasy #1 covers a lot of ground, and wanders through a lot of locations. The art is loose and expressive and can be a little uneven. The main characters have a wide range of facial expressions, which is good to see. But there are a lot of other characters in the background, this being the city. Some panels look as though they were drawn more quickly than others, although generally, the ones featuring our main characters look pretty good.
Even so, the art does help pull you into the story. The style may be very free-flowing and relatively simple, but there are a lot of small details tucked in all over. In the opening scene, there is a “Lich of the Week” poster taped to the wall (in her sexy little bikini). There are billboards and ads drawn all around the city. There is office clutter around the office, and the workers have amusing coffee mugs. Sage runs past Mace’s department store (that is not a misspelling). I could go on and on. And the people – there are some humans in this world, but the diversity of monstrous types of characters is incredible. A lot of work has gone into world-building by way of the art.
BOTTOM LINE: OFF TO A DECENT START
Modern Fantasy #1 starts off a little slowly, and has to give us a lot of information. If you like stories about young people and their lives, as well as traditional fantasy, you might give this book a try. I think it has some potential to give us something unexpected. There are some genuinely funny bits, and some absurdity which is genuinely charming.